“Where are the girls with mini-skirts? “ the man asked as he climbed out of his Cherokee.
“When we stopped for fuel in Savannah we were parked by a cute girl in a mini-skirt. I thought maybe that was the new thing, so I’m disappointed. No offense.”
That was a new one on me. I worked on the line at Showalter Flying Service at Herndon airport in Orlando, Florida parking and refueling aircraft and that was the first I had heard there were girls in this line of work.
“Seriously, they have girls working the line in Savannah?”
“Not just girls! Pretty girls. Wearing miniskirts.”
That thought bounced around in my head for a couple of days until I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to go see for myself, so I skipped school and flew to Savannah.
I was 16 years old, a junior in high school and based on an arrangement between my Dad and Harold Slama, the president of the Cobia Boat Company, I had access to a Cessna 210. I was a student pilot building time and experience toward my private license.
The flight to Savannah from Orlando didn’t take too long, but when I taxied in to the FBO, a man parked me. I got out and asked him if they had girls in mini-skirts working the line. He told me they didn’t.
“Not even on the weekends?” I asked.
“Nope, not anytime,” he said. “But there is another FBO on the field, maybe they have hired some girls.”
Hmmm…I cranked up and taxied to the other FBO only to learn no girls worked there either.
Damn! I had bought that fictitious story hook, line and sinker. Today, we would say I had been ‘Punked.’
Defeated, I fueled up and headed home. Unfortunately, a line of showers had formed along the Florida/Georgia line and I couldn’t get past them.
Even in the uncontrolled airspace where I was legal to fly as low as 700 feet AGL, I couldn’t safely get under them, so I landed at Saint Simons, Island (SSI) where the Flight Service Station was located.
Speaking with the weather briefers, I learned it was very common for weather to form along the state line each day, especially in the warmer months. They said it would be well after dark before the storms were likely to dissipate.
Boy, was I in trouble!
I had planned on getting to Savannah and back without my parents finding out, but it was fast approaching the time I would normally be arriving home from school, so I needed to call home and let my Mom know where I was.
As was my Mom’s style, she said, “Well, give me a number where you can be reached and I’ll give it to your Dad when he gets home.”
My Dad flew a Twin Beech 18 for the Florida Gas Company and he usually called home around six each day to let my Mom know he was back from his trip and was headed home.
This day, his call home consisted of Mom telling him I was stuck in Brunswick at the Flight Service Station on Saint Simons Island.
Shortly after six o’clock, one of the weather briefers told me I had a call. Reluctantly, I answered.
My Dad, who was typically very strict, always seem the calmest and most understanding when I had made a bone-headed move with an airplane.
I told him I had gone to Savannah to confirm a rumor that there were pretty girls in miniskirts working the line and I was on the way home and couldn't get under the line of showers between Brunswick and Jacksonville.
He no doubt thought I was a gullible idiot, but he didn't express it. Instead he told me the clouds along the state line typically ended a couple of miles off-shore, so I should be able to get around them by flying a few miles out over the Atlantic and then paralleling the coast until around Daytona. From Daytona to Orlando the weather was pretty good, he said.
I took off and was pleased to learn he was right. I only had to go offshore around 15 miles to get safely around the showers, then the flight back to Orlando proved uneventful.
When I got home, it was dark, dinner was over and I entered timidly.
Much to my delight, all my Dad said, almost in passing, was, “Let me know next time you want to pull something like that, your Mom was pretty upset.”
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